WTFwatch: Gonzo’s a goner, Soderling’s sunk
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:50
Juan Martin del Potro saved seven match points against Fernando Gonzalez in their third round encounter at the BNP Paribas Masters 1000 before the Chilean retired, putting himself out of the running for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Gonzalez had to at least reach the final of the last ATP regular-season event in Paris to oust Fernando Verdasco and clinch the final berth for the season finale at London’s O2 arena in just over a week’s time.
The world No.11 held seven match points, and managed to convert just one of his 16 break point chances during the two sets, which took nearly two and a half hours, before a knee injury forced him to pull out ahead of the decider.
US Open champion del Potro was left thanking his lucky stars. Trailing by a set after letting a healthy lead slide in the first set tie-break, the world No.5 looked set to retire himself when he called the trainer to treat an abdominal problem midway through the second set.
But with Gonzalez also struggling with a knee injury he battled on, saving five match points on his own serve at 5-4 as the Chilean played an uncharacteristically tentative game with victory in sight.
And after leveling the match in a second breaker – in which he saved another two match points – the Argentine got his reward when his crestfallen opponent suddenly called it a day.
Del Potro, now installed as the bookies’ favourite to win in Paris, faces the in-form Radek Stepanek in the quarter-finals.
The last-eight matches are already underway, with Novak Djokovic ending another London hopeful’s last-ditch bid to qualify.
Robin Soderling’s hopes of a first-ever appearance at the World Tour Finals are over following a 6-4 1-6 6-3 defeat to the Serb.
Djokovic managed a break early in a first set littered with exciting rallies. Soderling broke back to level the set at 4-4, but immediately dropped serve again to leave Djokovic serving for the set.
The Swede, who like Gonzalez had needed to reach the final in Paris to have any chance of qualifying, fought back to take the second set in just 28 minutes, sealing it with an ace.
The third set was a tight affair until Soderling dropped serve by netting a backhand to leave Djokovic serving for the match, which he did when Soderling missed a drop shot on match point to bow out after just under two hours.
The results mean that Fernando Verdasco is guaranteed to qualify for the World Tour Finals as long as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga does not defend his Paris title.
The French No.1 faces Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals later today.